The use of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to repair diseased or injured brain is promising technology with significant humanitarian, societal and economic impact. Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurological disorder characterized by the loss of midbrain dopaminergic (DA) neurons. The generation of this cell type will fulfill a currently unmet therapeutic need. We report on the isolation and perpetuation of a midbrain-specified self-renewable human neural stem cell line (hNSCs) from hESCs. These hNSCs grew as a monolayer and uniformly expressed the neural precursor markers nestin, vimentin and a radial glial phenotype. We describe a process to direct the differentiation of these hNSCs towards the DA lineage. Glial conditioned media acted synergistically with fibroblastic growth factor and leukemia inhibitory factor to induce the expression of the DA marker, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), in the hNSC progeny. The glial-derived neurotrophic factor did not fully mimic the effects of conditioned media. The hNSCs expressed the midbrain-specific transcription factors Nurr1 and Pitx3. The inductive effects did not modify the level of the glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) transcript, a marker for GABAergic neurons, while the TH transcript increased 10-fold. Immunocytochemical analysis demonstrated that the TH-expressing cells did not co-localize with GAD. The transplantation of these DA-induced hNSCs into the non-human primate MPTP model of PD demonstrated that the cells maintain their DA-induced phenotype, extend neurite outgrowths and express synaptic markers.
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View details for PubMedID 22815935
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3398927